Trade shows – you either love them or you hate them. Marketing spends a lot of time and effort (not to mention a huge chunk of their budget) to put on these events as a way to generate leads and opportunities for sales. Often times though, these huge events don’t even bring in one closed deal for an organization.
As the head of sales, you are responsible for your team’s sales strategy to bring in revenue post event. In order to make that happen and make marketing happy, you need to build a bulletproof plan with attainable goals.
Here are four steps to building a solid sales and marketing strategy that would yield the highest ROI on your trade show investment.
1. Determine your account and sales pipeline strategy
If you attended the event last year, run the numbers for average sales metrics achieved after the event. Consider these figures as a baseline for your sales team for this year’s event.
How can you ensure you achieve similar results? Start by asking the right questions to define your plan:
For sales leaders
- Who are you targeting at the event? Have your sales team create a short list of target accounts that they are actively engaging with to schedule time to meet at the event.
- Who are you best customers? Determine if your evangelists are attending and get them in front of prospects to collaborate.
- Empower the team to be part of the decision making process. Define your objectives together and be transparent about why the team needs to execute flawlessly at the event.
For sales reps
- Analyze your customer base. Knowledge is power, and knowing your customer is one of the most powerful ways to sell more. What do you know about the people to whom you’re trying to sell? Make a list (personas can help), and develop a deep and nuanced view of your customers’ needs and how your solution can contribute to their goals.
- Set your goals. It’s impossible to meet goals if you don’t know exactly what you’re driving towards. Write down what you want to achieve and commit to it. Visibility drives accountability, so share that with your manager too. How many meetings are you committed to scheduling? How much pipeline do you expect to generate? How many deals do you want to close?
- Have powerful stats and customer success stories in your back pocket to call upon when you’re engaged with a prospect at the event. You have a limited window, so get to the point in 30 seconds or less. Rehearse with peers before you step onto the showfloor.
2. Determine your engagement strategy pre-event, onsite and post-event
Engage marketing early in the planning process. Determine the focus on key messages that marketing will create and share on the company website, blog, social channels and email. Establish campaign cadence, pre-event, during the event and after. Empower your sales reps to be social by equipping them with content they can post throughout the event.
Determine your “Why.” Why does your company exist? What are you solving for and how do you deliver tangible solutions? Once you know your why, your team can confidently talk about what you do and how you make a difference.
3. Engage marketing to publish relevant content across social channels
Listen, engage and publish content on Slack, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Enlist your social media specialist or member of the marketing team to monitor the social buzz at the event. Look for opportunities to promote your brand using the event hashtag if one exists. If not, create one to get foot traffic to the booth. This is your chance to be creative!
Once you register for the event, find out if there is an app specific to the event with agenda details and potentially other attendee contact information. Engage with prospects or network with attendees prior to the event. Apps like these allow you to contact prospects and attendees via in-app messaging. This is a great way to set appointments for the booth ahead of time.
If you are throwing a private party the week of the event, or your C-level executive is speaking at the event, the event app is also a great way to invite attendees and prospects or spread the word about your presence.
4. Divide and conquer
Networking is imperative at the event. If you don’t have a plan, your team will get lost in the sea of potentially thousands upon thousands of attendees. Develop a plan to divide and conquer.
Encourage your executive team to be involved in the planning process. They should be leveraged on all fronts, from attending, discovery, to closing meetings with prospects and customers. Register your executive team to attend sessions. They will gain valuable insights and connect with other leaders.
It is also a good idea to set up a shared calendar in order for the entire attending team to have visibility into everyone’s schedules.
In summary, if you build a rock solid, fool-proof plan, your team will see great ROI from attending a trade show. Whether you’re an attendee or sponsor, you can utilize all of these strategies for success.